The term School to Career Connecting Activities refers to building connections between employers and schools in order to provide work experience opportunities and other career development opportunities. Connecting Activities is a state budget line item that provides money for staff who create these school-employer connections through work-based learning programs. Connecting Activities staff also support other connections, such as job shadow days, career days, employer guest speaker programs, workshops and other career development activities. The primary measurement goals for the initiative are based on employer and student participation in work-based learning experiences (jobs/internships). Connecting Activities funding flows from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to the regional Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs).

  • Each region has flexibility in how they organize and staff the Connecting Activities initiative. Staff may come from the school district, the WIB, the Career Center, a School-to-Career partnership, or a partner organization such as a chamber of commerce or community college.
  • Each region, in consultation with local school districts, also has flexibility in program design, around the central element of connecting students with work-based learning. Additional program design elements may include workshops, career fairs and career days, job shadow days, teacher externship programs, employer guest speaker programs, or other career development activities.
  • Connecting Activities programming is designed to enhance, complement and support other programming in the school and community, so that youth can experience a range of opportunities as they develop college and career readiness throughout their high school years.

BRIEF HISTORY

 

1990s

National School to Work Opportunities Act. Massachusetts created School to Career programs in the 1990s through a five-year grant under the National School to Work Opportunities Act. At the end of this five-year federal grant (which was designed as seed money to build the foundation for ongoing programs), Massachusetts created the “Connecting Activities” initiative to continue this work.

1998

The Connecting Activities initiative began in 1998.

1999

In 1999, a working group of staff, employers and educators from across Massachusetts, convened by the ESE Connecting Activities program, created the first version of the Work-Based Learning Plan. The Work-Based Learning Plan is a central element for Connecting Activities and other youth employment programs for creating quality work-based learning placements.

 

The first version of the program's database -- the PC-based School to Career Database -- was launched in 1998-99.

2003

When Connecting Activities programs provided successful work-and-learning programs to help students from the class of 2003 re-take and pass the MCAS, Connecting Activities programming became aligned with MCAS/Academic Support programming. Since 2003, priority has been placed on providing opportunities for students who need to take MCAS re-tests in order to graduate. Many regions have created “Work and Learning Academic Support” programs, which combine a work experience with classroom instruction related to MCAS preparation. The classroom instruction in these programs is supported by Academic Support grants from ESE, with the employer connection and job placement supported by Connecting Activities funding.

 

This connection between MCAS, Academic Support and Connecting Activities continued a theme that was important throughout the development of the School-to-Career concept: the concept that quality work experiences both directly and indirectly enhance all types of skill development, including academic skills, technical/career skills and basic foundation skills.

2006

The current version of the Work-Based Learning Plan was developed by another interagency working group of staff, employers and educators.

2008

The Online Work-Based Learning Database (now renamed the Massachusetts Career Ready Database) was launched through a pilot group of summer YouthWorks and Connecting Activities summer jobs programs. Gradually the pilot database grew to be a statewide database. The database is used by all Connecting Activities programs, as well as any other programs that want an online version of the Work-Based Learning Plan, including a wide variety of WIA Youth, YouthWorks, Cooperative Education and other statewide and local youth employment programs.

2011

The Connecting Activities initiative introduced new Work and Learning Program Elements to guide programming and organize reporting.  These elements (using the acronym AGROWE) focus on coordinating with initiatives in local schools to raise graduation rates; to help students develop college and career plans; to provide students with workshops and classes coordinated with work-based learning placements; to use the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan to structure work-based learning placements, and continue to connect employers and schools.

2014

The massconnecting.org website was launched, along with the new "Join the Network" and "Share Your Story" pages. These new features reach out to invite schools to become members of the Connecting Activities network, extending the network to include both partner and member schools.